MSU Phasing Out Coal Use, Going Green

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EAST LANSING, MI (WLNS) – Michigan State University is talking about going green, but we’re not talking about sports or money. Instead, it’s about energy.

For the past few years the university has been gearing up for new emission standards by the Environmental Protection Agency.

This plant currently burns natural gas and coal to produce steam used for heat and electricity.

Now three out of the four boilers burn natural gas and MSU’s spent the last few years reducing coal use. On Wednesday the school announced a plan for even more change.

“Part of it is just simply using less energy, because that’s a way of reducing our carbon footprint.”

Since 2009 the Pioneer Land Grant Institution has reduced coal use some 65 percent, including emissions from the T.B. Simon Power Plant.

Michigan State University isn’t stopping there.

“We’ve built that strategy to be able to eliminate coal by the end of 2016,” said MSU president, Lou Anna K. Simon, Ph. D.

A green strategy that president Dr. Lou Anna K. Simon announced as part of a webcast on MSU’s energy future and a plan that’s been in the works for some time.

“We’ve been burning coal and actual renewable products in one of the boilers as a way of testing the use of renewables.”

A test and now reality that’s including help from Consumers Energy.

“We’re seeing some of the lowest natural gas prices, we’ve seen in over a decade which certainly makes a transition like this not only meet things from a sustainability but also affordability,” said Garrick Rochow, vp/chief, customer officer, Consumers Energy.

Consumers vice president Garrick Rochow says the switch to less coal and more natural gas will save MSU about $10 million over a 15 year period.

All moves president Simon says without raising tuition.

“It’s definitely a signal to the larger utility industry that coal in Michigan days are numbered,” said Nic Clark, Michigan director, Clean Water Action.

A step that Nic Clark says started with students input and hopes continues on the path for a greener footprint across campus.

“An even better step would be to find some creative ways to involve the student community moving forward so that all members of Spartan nation can be a part of the process of our energy future.”

To put this in perspective in terms of savings over 15 years.

Consumers says the switch is equal to about 170 million basketballs of natural gas reduction.

Pretty cool, bringing another meaning to going green.

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